Overreacting

Genesis 34:25-26 Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male.They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left.

overreactEarlier this year, some kids were saying some things about my daughter on the bus. We dealt with it, but my oldest son had a bone to pick.  “Do you need me to go down to your school and teach someone a lesson?” he asked.  He was ready to make some little boys pay dearly for their words.  Man was I proud!  Really I was.  Not that he wanted to knock heads together, but that he wanted to defend his sister.  This is the stuff we have been depositing in our children – we will stand together as a family.  He gets it!

The problem is, there is a difference between responding and reacting. Responding to a situation is wisdom; reacting to it is foolishness.  In Genesis 34, Dinah was mistreated.  In fact this scumbag Shechem took advantage of her.  Not cool Shechem.  Not cool. So out comes daddy’s shotgun if you ask me.  That’s the kind of emotion this kind of thing draws out of us.  Injustice, abuse, violation… I hate it all!  But what comes next in the story leaves the realm of response and into complete overreaction.  Dinah’s brothers don’t just take care of Schechem, they kill every male in the city.  Um, guys – you might have gone too far.

The thing is, Jacob thought the same thing.  He tells his sons that they overreacted; they went too far.  He fears that they went beyond the point of justice to the point of making enemies.  This is what happens when we overreact.  We end up not only hurting others, we hurt ourselves.  We damage our reputation and fracture relationships.  We are perceived as reckless and possibly much worse.  Even though I do it myself, I am learning that overreacting isn’t worth it.  If the fruit of the Spirit is self-control, I’ll take a fruit salad of just that, please!

*Lord, help us to keep our emotions in check so that we only respond and not overreact!

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